FeaturesDisquiet Over Worsening Insecurity, Killer Herders’ Invasion Of Makurdi Metropolis

Disquiet Over Worsening Insecurity, Killer Herders’ Invasion Of Makurdi Metropolis

May 11, (THEWILL) – The surging activities of killer herdsmen, especially in Makurdi, the Benue State capital, who kidnap, kill and destroy farmlands are threatening the peace of the state. In this piece, Kajo Martins examines the trending situation.

At the just concluded All Progressives Congress (APC) stakeholders meeting hosted by Governor Hyacinth Alia at the Government House in Makurdi, he raised the alarm that the activities of killer herders have posed a threat to nine local government areas in Benue State in which residents could no longer go for their legitimate farming activities for fear of attacks and killing.

According to the Governor, he cannot do it alone, hence the invitation of Benue State stakeholders to synergize to find common solutions to the disturbing scenario. He listed the local councils under serious threat, including Kwande, Logo, Ukum, Guma, Makurdi, Gwer East, Gwer West, Agatu and Oturkpo among others.

At the meeting, Governor Alia listed efforts his administration has made since assumption of duty on May 29, 2023, to bring down the spate of insecurity, especially the activities of herders who flout the Anti-Open Grazing Prohibition Law of Benue State 2017, noting that the unknown gunmen’s aim was to grab land, maim and kill.

The Governor, therefore, appealed to the Nigeria Police to help the state get rid of the unknown gunmen who are currently occupying ancestral homes and lands of persons displaced following attacks in nine local government areas in the state.

“My government is committed to ending food insecurity in the state and beyond by enabling farmers to return to their farmlands to cultivate. By your posting to Benue, there is hope in town that you continue to keep our lives and democracy safe,” he said.

A peep into activities of killer herders in the state indicates that Terwase Orbunde, the Chief of Staff to former governor Samuel Ortom, was attacked by suspected herdsmen on Friday, April 12, 2024, close to the Genabe Cemetery, along Mobile Barracks-Welfare Quarters Road in Makurdi. He sustained injuries in the process, while his wife, Abigail Kashimana Orbunde, and their housemaid, Patience Ogute, were kidnapped during the attack.

The kidnappers demanded a ransom of N100 million for their release. However, Mrs. Orbunde and her maid regained their freedom on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, after an undisclosed amount was paid as ransom to their abductors.

Tahav Agerzua, a close associate of the Orbunde family, in a statement, shared the news of their liberation on his verified social media handle.

Recently, Engr. Yakubu Anongo, a Makurdi-based businessman, was kidnapped at his farm near Lower Benue Basin by herdsmen. Giving testimony during a thanksgiving mass at the Catholic Youth Center church to mark his safe release, Yakubu said his captors said they were not happy to release him because he was hardworking and obeyed their instructions in the course of his stay with them. Money exchanged hands before his release.

Equally, the Father Angus Frazer Memorial High School in Makurdi, Benue State was closed due to a recent attack by unknown gunmen. The attack occurred on Tuesday night, May 7, 2024. The attackers shot and seriously injured a security man on duty, forcing the school to close temporarily due to fears of another attack and possible abduction. However, the Principal, Fr. Emmanuel Ogwuche, and the students were safe in the course of the invasion.

Investigation revealed that four kidnap victims are currently receiving treatment at the Bishop Murray Hospital, Makurdi on release from captivity. One of the victims, whose legs were swollen, said the Fulani herders took them captive for almost two weeks in a forest in Gwer West. “They feed us with Gari, salt and onions. They moved us round the forest with a threat to kill us if ransom was not paid,” she said. According to her, the sum of N10 million, bread, sugar and crates of coke were brought in exchange for their safe release.

The State Commandant of the National Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) in Benue, Mr. CC Ibrahim, called on residents to volunteer actionable intelligence to security agencies in the state to ensure prompt action against criminal activities.

The Commandant, in a statement by the Command’s Public Relations Officer, Michael Enebi Ajenikwu, said men of the Corps recently repelled a well-coordinated attempt by unidentified gunmen to kidnap students and staff at the Father Angus Frazer Memorial High School, Adeke in Makurdi Local Government Area.

According to the statement, the State Commandant had personally coordinated an action plan to provide watertight security in schools in the state, including Father Angus Frazer Memorial High School, which has been classified as high risk, hence the deployment of men of the Command to ensure safety.

The new Commissioner of Police, Benue State Command, CP Steve Yabanet, stated his resolve to flush criminals out of the state for peace to reign.

“Unknown gunmen should repent or relocate to neighbouring states for Benue, as the food basket of the nation, must restore its full glory,” the CP stated.

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